John is the new Jon
August 16, 2014 3:11 PM   Subscribe

With a combination of humor and fearlessness, Last Week Tonight has done an unlikely thing: spurred action. John Oliver’s segment on net neutrality this past June perfectly summed up what his HBO show Last Week Tonight is so good at: transcending apathy. It’s an ingenious formula that’s making a difference in the real world. “Making a difference” isn’t hyperbole. The FCC’s website actually crashed from overwhelming web traffic the day after Oliver’s segment originally aired. The Atlantic looks at How John Oliver Beats Apathy.
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, previously
  • John Oliver on net neutrality, previously
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on FanFare
posted by Room 641-A (89 comments total) 66 users marked this as a favorite

 
Tom Wheeler's bewildered "but I'm not a dingo" didn't do much to improve his image. An FCC chairman who doesn't even know what a metaphor is probably doesn't belong in the communication business at all, let alone regulating it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:29 PM on August 16, 2014 [4 favorites]




I love how John Oliver has differentiated his show from The Daily Show with his lengthy segments that entirely deconstruct and explain an issue in a way which is entirely intelligible to the audience. It's peculiar how this HBO show is similar to, yet entirely different from the Comedy Central show, when any stand-back-and-squint assessment would say they are identical.

But they are not. Stewart has his thing going on, Oliver has his. They compliment each other, and it shows that there is probably room for several other such shows that would also find their own voice and purpose.

Oliver's show makes me vibrate so hard sometimes. It's a thrilling sort of weekly series, way beyond what I expected it to be.
posted by hippybear at 3:43 PM on August 16, 2014 [36 favorites]


I was thankful he had a segment on prison privatization -- it's a dull and difficult topic, and the show somehow managed to make a compelling and engaging piece. And that's really the key to the show's success: the combination of sharp writing and a whimsical (yet surprisingly not belittling) delivery.

"Part of the reason for Oliver’s success comes by virtue of his show being on HBO. He’s liberated from the advertising concerns that affect network TV. His scathing take on General Motors’ disastrous handling of the recent recall crisis won’t win him any sponsorship dollars from Detroit, but he’s in a position where he doesn’t have to care."

This is hugely important and it's why (online) subscription models will hopefully restore some honesty to television.
posted by Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra at 3:45 PM on August 16, 2014 [27 favorites]


Oliver's show makes me vibrate so hard sometimes. It's a thrilling sort of weekly series, way beyond what I expected it to be.

I really thought it was just going to be an extra hour of the Daily Show, and watching John Oliver instead turn it into a comedic news version of Real Sports is exciting.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:48 PM on August 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


Not to denigrate Oliver's effect, but overwhelming a government website is hardly difficult.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:03 PM on August 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


But they are not. Stewart has his thing going on, Oliver has his. They compliment each other, and it shows that there is probably room for several other such shows that would also find their own voice and purpose.

Jon Stewart really deserves a lot of credit for surrounding himself with great talent, nurturing that talent, always giving credit to that talent, and then setting the stage for those people to take off and become great themselves, in their own way. In any industry this would be remarkable, but I think it's especially true in entertainment, where egos are fragile and everyone is seen as competition or a threat. I had a boss like this once, and he was by far the best boss (and mentor) I've ever had.
posted by Room 641-A at 4:05 PM on August 16, 2014 [122 favorites]


John Oliver speaks about net neutrality, brought to you by HBO, a wholly owned subsidiary of Time Warner Inc.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:05 PM on August 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


John Oliver speaks about net neutrality, brought to you by HBO, a wholly owned subsidiary of Time Warner Inc.

Yeah, what a corrupt piece of shit, talking about how net neutrality is unnecessary and anti-competitive, taking the Time Warner line about- oh, right, that never happened.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:09 PM on August 16, 2014 [39 favorites]




I haven't watched Rachel Maddow in awhile, but I remember that her opening block used to be a long story with a contextual setup and then the currently relevant payoff. If he's modeling any narrative style it seems to me it's hers. With moar funny, as the scamps at Wonkette would say.
posted by MarvinTheCat at 4:11 PM on August 16, 2014 [7 favorites]


Not to denigrate Oliver's effect, but overwhelming a government website is hardly difficult.

The difficulty wasn't technical, it was social. He managed to spur (young?) people to do something they likely wouldn't have done. You'd be surprised how discouraging a simple form asking for a name and address is.
posted by Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra at 4:11 PM on August 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


Jon Stewart really deserves a lot of credit

colbert has said something similar - talking about how when stewart showed up at the daily show he told the staff that remained that they had to have an opinion about politics/current events - that he didn't care what the opinion was, but they had to have one. colbert was apparently pretty apathetic to the whole topic until he was challenged by stewart to nurture that voice. he's really very remarkable, i think.
posted by nadawi at 4:12 PM on August 16, 2014 [21 favorites]


!
posted by Mental Wimp at 4:21 PM on August 16, 2014


Time Warner Inc. and Time Warner Cable separated in 2009.

HBO is a wholly owned subsidiary of Time Warner Inc. Time Warner Cable is one of the primary targets of criticism in Oliver's video. TW Cable has an entirely opposite motivation than Time Warner Inc./HBO as a content creator.

All I'm saying is that John Oliver knows which side of his bread is buttered.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:26 PM on August 16, 2014


I don't totally see the huge leap from The Daily Show allegedly afforded by HBO's alleged freedom from commercial overseers, not to mention that Oliver's show exists exactly because The Daily Show has been such a successful, commercially stable property for such a long time now. But it had not occurred to me, and it is absolutely right, that Oliver picks up a lot of depth in not being pegged to the 24 hour news cycle. His Fresh Air interview in June was great...
posted by batfish at 4:26 PM on August 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


HBO is a wholly owned subsidiary of Time Warner Inc. Time Warner Cable is one of the primary targets of criticism in Oliver's video. TW Cable has an entirely opposite motivation than Time Warner Inc./HBO as a content creator.

Eh, I don't know about that. Seems to me like professional content creators (the HBOs of the world) probably still have an incentive against net neutrality to keep the barriers to entry up, if nothing else.

Do you have any sources that suggest otherwise?
posted by graphnerd at 4:30 PM on August 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


TW Cable has an entirely opposite motivation than Time Warner Inc./HBO as a content creator.

Right. As opposed to the unholy union of Comcast and NBC Universal.

I thought you were making the (admittedly fairly easy to make) mistake of believing that Time Warner Inc and Time Warner Cable were the same company and were accusing Oliver of something untoward.

It is entirely possible that he is committing something untoward, but on the matter of net neutrality, the side of the content creator wanting not to have delivery companies creating priority lanes for specific content is probably the correct one for the benefit of all.
posted by hippybear at 4:36 PM on August 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


My interest in The Daily Show has been fading for sometime. I thought it was because it was just hard to find the funny in the compete gridlock and rent-seeking of current American politics.

But Oliver's format of picking one topic and diving into it a bit feels far more digestible and less paralyzing than Stewart's daily dose of "We Are So Fucked". I feel enlightened, not just enraged.

And Oliver is an excellent comedian and host. Kudos to Stewart for mentoring him like he did.
posted by dry white toast at 4:51 PM on August 16, 2014 [21 favorites]


All I'm saying is that John Oliver knows which side of his bread is buttered.

Yeah, damn him for taking the correct position. He should have taken the wrong position to prove his independence!

Wait, what?

Anyway I am flabbergasted at how good Oliver is. LWT is better at this point than Stewart or Colbert. And more important. Or at least it has the potential to be that if it can permeate the collective consciousness in the same way.

The most important way in which it is better and more important? Oliver does funny, informative segments that individually last almost as long as Colbert and Stewart's entire shows.
posted by Justinian at 4:54 PM on August 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


Eh, I don't know about that. Seems to me like professional content creators (the HBOs of the world) probably still have an incentive against net neutrality to keep the barriers to entry up, if nothing else.

Do you have any sources that suggest otherwise?


You may be right. Or not.

It seems pretty obvious that media producers have a huge incentive to promote net neutrality, just as the cable companies have a huge incentive to gouge the media producers. Surely TW/HBO knows it is too late to maintain a barrier to entry for competing content creators. They know where their primary delivery channel will go, sooner or later.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:56 PM on August 16, 2014


I still think John Oliver's show doesn't have an audience. Anyone ever seen an audience shot of his show?
posted by slater at 4:59 PM on August 16, 2014


Apparently you can apply to get tickets to see him do the show. Perhaps this website is an elaborate front to cover the lie?
posted by hippybear at 5:02 PM on August 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah, you can usually see the audience at the end of the show if he ends with one of his madcap finales. Someone got a t-shirt.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:17 PM on August 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Still concerned about what all this means for The Bugle.
posted by Jimbob at 5:20 PM on August 16, 2014 [29 favorites]


Yeah, with John distracted, Andy will be forced to vamp for time with ten minute long meandering pun runs.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:24 PM on August 16, 2014 [13 favorites]


Andy is great though, going on about John conquering America and him being equally occupied in breaking in a new pair of shoes. . .
posted by Danf at 5:29 PM on August 16, 2014 [7 favorites]


In terms of editorial independence Oliver had form. There were a long series of bugles reporting on and slating the behaviour of the Murdoch empire, all while they were part of the Times Online, part of the aforementioned empire. These segments were usually preceded by John and Andy confused that the microphones were still on and they hadn't been thrown out of the studio yet.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 5:40 PM on August 16, 2014 [8 favorites]


I was, like, a year behind on The Bugle and caught up in the space of a few weeks right before Oliver's show when on the air. You can definetely hear the same tone. Maybe a bit more bewildered on The Bugle, and more confident on his show.
posted by Cyrano at 5:46 PM on August 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


charlie don't surf, have you ever listened to John Oliver on The Bugle? Up until 2012 it was produced by The Times, owned by Rupert Murdoch, whom they regularly attacked and mocked quite openly on the show. They would always joke after those segments that they might not be back next week.
John Oliver doesn't give a shit who he offends, even if they are paying him. (On preview I see I'm not the first one to this point.)
posted by MrBobaFett at 6:05 PM on August 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


I've been equivocal about Jon Stewart for a while, esp since I listened to Ed Brayton’s Culture War Radio interview with former Daily Show writer David Feldman (mp3 podcast): "Jon Stewart, on the other hand, who I worked for on The Daily Show, is in my opinion, very manipulative. He’s more of a crowd pleaser and gives the illusion of taking chances. But he’s an impressionist and he’s trying to, uh…Well, I don’t want to talk about Jon Stewart because I could, you know, it’s like going after Christ. And this is a guy who—I’m a staunch member of the Writer’s Guild of America and Jon Stewart fought his writers when they wanted to go union. They went union and [he] has been punishing them ever since, so the reason, you know, if you watch the Jon Stewart show, he doesn’t really do well-crafted jokes. He’ll throw a couple in, but it’s mostly mugging and shouting. He’s funny, but he’s punishing his writers. He doesn’t use his writers’ stuff because he’s mad at them for going union. And when I was there, I came in there right after they signed with the Writer’s Guild and many of his writers wanted to work with me because they had never gotten their stuff on the show. So he’s turned them all into sinecures, you know, people who have titles and Emmy’s and they work all day, then he doesn’t uses their stuff."
posted by Auden at 6:18 PM on August 16, 2014 [14 favorites]


It seems pretty obvious that media producers have a huge incentive to promote net neutrality, just as the cable companies have a huge incentive to gouge the media producers.

HBO has negative incentive to promote net neutrality. Net neutrality is the best thing that ever happened to Netflix, and taking it away was the worst thing that ever happened to Netflix. Worse than Quikster. Ending net neutrality is absolutely the best thing that could happen to anyone who wants to make sure cable TV still exists in ten years.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:25 PM on August 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


They would always joke after those segments that they might not be back next week.

And then one week The Times dumped them...
posted by Jimbob at 6:59 PM on August 16, 2014


Having been an avid listener of The Bugle for years, I don't think I've ever heard John as apathetic. Joyfully singing about how launching a baseball into the water off of an aircraft carrier to be retrieved by jetskis, yes. (Oh say, is this the most... American thing that has ever haaaaappened...) Apathetic, no.

Now granted, there is the balm that is sport, but we're talking about the guy that invented the Fuckyoulogy.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 7:10 PM on August 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


Yeah, with John distracted, Andy will be forced to vamp for time with ten minute long meandering pun runs.

I'm hoping Andy finally decides "what the hell" and just spends 45 solid minutes relating the details of some cricket match from 1953. I'm also hoping he only does this once.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:12 PM on August 16, 2014 [7 favorites]


John Oliver is rapidly becoming a national treasure for two countries. The Bugle may suffer, but I'm glad he's getting a bigger platform. What he's doing matters.
posted by arcticseal at 7:13 PM on August 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


I don't currently have cable but at least twice in the past month, I've hit the Rogers cable website to see exactly how much money I'd have to pay just so I could watch this show.

$74.86

Almost seems worth it.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:16 PM on August 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


If your posting in this thread, unless you're using some kind of wicker Little House on the Prarie cobbled together laptop, you're almost certainly using something that's a result of shitty business practices by oil companies, and then built by shitty business processes by Apple or HP/Dell then run by the shitty business practices of Microsoft or back to Apple.

(And I'm doing all of those things.)

John Oliver is doing great work. Let's not outpace the forest for the trees RE: Time Warner.
posted by Cyrano at 7:30 PM on August 16, 2014 [8 favorites]


One thing I like about Oliver's show is the lack of a guest every show. Sometimes guests on late night shows can be great, but most of the time I just don't care about them. I also hate the recent trend of extended interviews on the web. I'm just not gonna do that, and the interviews they actually air when they do this are noticeably just pieces of a whole.

And, no commercials.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:32 PM on August 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


And this is a guy who—I’m a staunch member of the Writer’s Guild of America and Jon Stewart fought his writers when they wanted to go union. They went union

I said this back when this hit piece on Stewart went up, but that's not what I remember from the Writer's Strike. Stewart is a member of that union, but as host and show runner, was contractually obligated to continue the show even without the writers. So to show support he renamed his show to "A Daily Show", and was up-front that it wasn't going to be as good while the writers were away, with him basically having to ad lib the thing. Colbert did something similar (and ruled, the man is a genius).

As for Stewart vs. Oliver:
I like LWT tonight a whole lot, and I still like the Daily Show, and for that matter I like the Colbert Report (which did some of that participation thing before Oliver did, remember Colbert SuperPAC?). I refuse to play favorites between them -- they're all good, but for subtly different things.
posted by JHarris at 7:40 PM on August 16, 2014 [20 favorites]


"A Daily Show"

Seems about right.
posted by Cyrano at 8:12 PM on August 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


When Stewart first started at the Daily Show his life could still be affected by the policies he was railing against, you could hear it in his voice and you could see it in his eyes - at some point (probably when his net worth eclipsed the 30 million dollar mark) that ceased to show through. He was pretty good at faking it for a while but now he's firmly entrenched in the camp of the Brian Williams' of the world who present the corruption in a concerned 'pity for you but can never touch me' fashion - looking seriously at the camera in one segment then yucking it up with Bill O'Reilly in the next. He's got too much to lose. I assume it will happen to Oliver as well. People who speak truth to power cannot live in comfort and MUST have nothing to lose. It's just the nature of the beast because you live a life of a Monty Python cartoon character never knowing when the next shoe is going to drop.
posted by any major dude at 8:16 PM on August 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


All I'm saying is that John Oliver knows which side of his bread is buttered.

I think he eats both sides anyway.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:51 PM on August 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


charlie don't surf, have you ever listened to John Oliver on The Bugle? Up until 2012 it was produced by The Times, owned by Rupert Murdoch, whom they regularly attacked and mocked quite openly on the show. They would always joke after those segments that they might not be back next week.

The Simpsons was (is? who knows) merciless towards Fox but self-awareness is no obstacle to profit. The Murdoch empire isn't stupid, they know Fox News is a dying dinosaur. I think [TW] Vice News is the cutting edge of something, moreso than HBO even.
posted by gorbweaver at 9:12 PM on August 16, 2014


I'm getting really tired of the misremembered and widely misreported history about that Net Neutrality thing...the FCC web site was overwhelmed and constantly unreachable and filed with tens of thousands of comments before LWT aired. Yes the show is great and I love it. Yes there were even more comments the next day. But did the show single-handedly create the inertia and topple the site and increase the responses by some unbelievable generation gap healing magical exponent? No, it did not. It was simply one of many contributions and an excellent and well appreciated one at that...but let's lay off the hyperbole or (depending on how it gets worded) straight up fabrication.

Just to reiterate, I love the show and the show is a force for lovely wonderful good in the world. Let's just not make things up though, and repeat them until they become true. That's what those other guys do.
posted by trackofalljades at 9:29 PM on August 16, 2014 [8 favorites]


I don't currently have cable but at least twice in the past month, I've hit the Rogers cable website to see exactly how much money I'd have to pay just so I could watch this show.

I know it likely wont change any time soon, but it completely baffles me that there isn't some way to just pay for HBO go. Like, just a streaming only subscription.

Yes, i realize it's probably because they'd get caught up in some netflix vs comcast type cockfight with the cable/satellite companies who would try and fuck them over or strongarm them if they did that, but still. There's a lot of people i know who would pay a netflix amount of money to have HBO.

Not to mention, how stupidly restricted HBO go is in the first place. My mom has HBO, i have a samsung smart tv with the HBO app. This should work, right? Nope, because comcast blocked you from using the app on samsung tvs. I can go to the HBO go site and play it, and it works on my xbox.. but not on my tv. Or my parents rokus. Apparently your local cable company gets to pick and choose what devices it's allowed on in each city. So people in california and stuff can use hbo go on comcast, but not people in seattle. Fucking h-what.

Fucking moronic, that's what.

It's been a hassle to keep up with this show because of that.
posted by emptythought at 9:31 PM on August 16, 2014 [7 favorites]


When Stewart first started at the Daily Show his life could still be affected by the policies he was railing against,

When Stewart first started at The Daily Show he wasn't railing against policies. He was making fun of the news media, sometimes including grossly biased political "opinion" shows.

Then he discovered he could actually wield a little power via his audience, and slowly the show was reduced to only covering conservative idiots (seriously, the sheer duration of Fox footage is pushing the boundaries of Fair Use) and a nice collection of black and white liberal talking points.

Basically he's become a hitman for the left, or maybe just the cheerleader that gets to deliver the doctrine to the faithful four nights a week.

In any case at some point he started taking the show seriously, and that's pretty much when it stopped being funny.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:41 PM on August 16, 2014


Do you even watch TDS anymore? He spends equal time taking down the ridiculous on both sides of the political spectrum, and his focus continues to be common sense outrage against entrenched bullshit regardless of its source. His show may have a left-leaning bend, but in that way it is no different from history in general.
posted by hippybear at 9:48 PM on August 16, 2014 [18 favorites]


> When Stewart first started at the Daily Show his life could still be affected by the policies he was railing against, you could hear it in his voice and you could see it in his eyes - at some point (probably when his net worth eclipsed the 30 million dollar mark) that ceased to show through. He was pretty good at faking it for a while but now he's firmly entrenched in the camp of the Brian Williams' of the world who present the corruption in a concerned 'pity for you but can never touch me' fashion - looking seriously at the camera in one segment then yucking it up with Bill O'Reilly in the next. He's got too much to lose. I assume it will happen to Oliver as well. People who speak truth to power cannot live in comfort and MUST have nothing to lose. It's just the nature of the beast because you live a life of a Monty Python cartoon character never knowing when the next shoe is going to drop.a life of a Monty Python cartoon character never knowing when the next shoe is going to drop.

This is simply not how it always works. I spent many years at the intersection of the entertainment industry and activism, and I'd suggest that rather than comparing the evolution of Jon Stewart to Brian Williams (?) you might look more in the direction of a young Norman Lear and the myriad ways his activism evolved and manifested itself over the years, both around and away from the camera. I'm not at all suggesting that Jon Stewart wants to -- or even should -- follow in Lear's footsteps, but the idea that mere comfort is enough to totally corrupt anyone's desire or ability to speak truth to power is simply untrue.
posted by Room 641-A at 10:03 PM on August 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


And FWIW I haven't watched Stewart or Colbert since the last presidential election because I just hit overload on watching tv about awful, awful people.
posted by Room 641-A at 10:05 PM on August 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


My interest in The Daily Show has been fading for sometime. I thought it was because it was just hard to find the funny in the compete gridlock and rent-seeking of current American politics.

I say this with all due respect and love for John Stewart. And I have a great deal of affection for him.

But, he seems so... tired. Like, they finally got to him. You can still see that spark and glimmer sometimes on some jokes and sets, but largely, he seems to just be tired of the idiocy and the moronitude and the dipshittery.

JS is a gem, and totally a National Treasure. In Civ5, The Daily Show should be a World Wonder that grants a free John Stewart. So, maybe I am projecting, because I am also tired of the Bachmann Gohmert Overdrive that rules current politics.

But when I watch TDS, I just want to give Stewart a hug. He seems to really need it these days.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:34 PM on August 16, 2014 [10 favorites]


But, he seems so... tired. Like, they finally got to him. You can still see that spark and glimmer sometimes on some jokes and sets, but largely, he seems to just be tired of the idiocy and the moronitude and the dipshittery.

Yeah, he gets his fire back when he works on pet causes like the 911 First Responders Health Care issue, or the VA issue, and such. But he does seem more tired than not these days. I think it was Colbert who said something to the effect of "it's exhausting to be angry and outraged all the time", and I see this in Stewart.
posted by hippybear at 10:45 PM on August 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


Do you even watch TDS anymore? He spends equal time taking down the ridiculous on both sides of the political spectrum, and his focus continues to be common sense outrage against entrenched bullshit regardless of its source.

I rarely catch it, but by an enormously odd statistical chance every time I do he's showing a clip making fun of some conservative talking point, usually from Fox.

Or perhaps it's not statistically odd, and the balance is not as equal as you perceive it to be. That was certainly the case when I finally gave up watching it a couple of years back and I'm not sure why it would have changed since then.

(I wandered off because the show had become more and more about politics. Technically editorial cartoons are humor, but they're not my thing.)
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:57 PM on August 16, 2014


I think JS's film is the reason he's been tired this last year (although I'd watch TDS & Colbert & JOliver no matter where they went or what they did, off nights, tired....&c). I think he's got about 5 titles on the film, from director to post-prodn runner. Imgaine having to crawl through something you filmed a year ago, frame-by-frame etc, to get it right, then go to work and have to trawl through so much depressing foxified media shite on top. Tired? Probably amazing he's not in a coffin.

The 2 year old interview with that ex-TDS writer maligning JS sounds like a contrived hit-piece (transcript) from someone who didn't fit in and/or wants revenge just fucking because. There's no corroboration from anyone which says a LOT.

But Oliver is fabulous. "Fly my pretties!"
posted by peacay at 1:00 AM on August 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm trying to remember some period when the Daily Show was less about politics. The golden era of Craig Kilborn?
posted by benito.strauss at 1:06 AM on August 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


Stewart's movie was filmed LAST summer. If he's still tired from that, 12 months later, then he needs to take a REAL break.
posted by hippybear at 1:06 AM on August 17, 2014


-needs to take a REAL break-

probably does. But the filming was only the beginning. My guessterstanding is that post production is pretty gruelling, with a tight budget.
posted by peacay at 1:17 AM on August 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


emptythought: "it completely baffles me that there isn't some way to just pay for HBO go. Like, just a streaming only subscription.

Yes, i realize it's probably because they'd get caught up in some netflix vs comcast type cockfight with the cable/satellite companies who would try and fuck them over or strongarm them if they did that, but still. There's a lot of people i know who would pay a netflix amount of money to have HBO.
"

Because you won't pay, standalone, what the cable companies and subscribers pay. Checking my cable company's web site reveals that it would cost me $17/month to have 7 channels of HBO, with only 1 in HD. Paying "a Netflix amount of money" would net them $7.99/month, or less than half, and it would make the cable providers into competitors instead of partners. Oh, and to watch HBO via streaming means I'm subject to my cable provider's data transfer cap versus the "included" bandwidth of linear video.
posted by fireoyster at 2:45 AM on August 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's easy to talk down The Daily Show now that there's John Oliver as an alternative, who would admit instantly he wouldn't be there if not for Jon Stewart. For a long long time it's all there was.

Jon Stewart has had a weird career. Back in the day he was pretty much just another comedian-guy. He had a "normal" talk show for a little while. He hosted Short Attention Span Theater (remember that??) for a while. He was in movies, doing the movie comedian thing.

Then his hosting of The Daily Show came along. No matter how tired he might be, I'm sure he's a lot happier in his current career than what fate seemed to have in store for him before, and both we and history will remember him a lot better for it too. After all, who is Craig Kilborn now but a trivia answer? Jon Stewart took his role as a replacement for a quirky but forgettable topical comedy program and did something with it. Remember when he destroyed Crossfire? Remember when John McCain blacklisted him? Remember his show from 9/11? The pair of Glenn Beck parody episodes? The Jim Cramer takedown?

Paying "a Netflix amount of money" would net them $7.99/month, or less than half, and it would make the cable providers into competitors instead of partners.

All of that money would go to HBO though. I'm sure that Big Cable's take is quite a large percentage.
posted by JHarris at 2:59 AM on August 17, 2014 [9 favorites]


I'm trying to remember some period when the Daily Show was less about politics. The golden era of Craig Kilborn?

I like to watch older ones at random and I generally place the marker at the disappearance of the couch. There's a lot of slop on either side, but it's certainly the point where they made a decision on a new direction.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:40 AM on August 17, 2014


Or rather I should say they made a decision on the direction. It had been one of several themes before.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:45 AM on August 17, 2014


I still think John Oliver's show doesn't have an audience. Anyone ever seen an audience shot of his show?

I was in the audience! Bf and I have been watching from the beginning. You get tickets here and it's surprisingly easy to get on the list.

They run things where you all get seated in bleachers, then some dude comes out to warm things up. (And yes, tee shirts! We got the last of 4 that were fired from a tee shirt gun.). Then John Oliver comes out and does some stand-up/get-to-know-the-audience, then segues right into the show.

It was a ton of fun, John Oliver is so engaging on TV, and even more engaging in person. (And I'm not someone who followed TDS or Colbert for a day.)
posted by DoubleLune at 4:14 AM on August 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


If you want to compare current Daily with Last Week Tonight, every Jon Stewart-era episode is on the internet, on the show's web page. Here's the most recent episode. Doesn't seem particularly bad to me. It's got shorter pieces but shows the hypocrisy of politicians just as they've done for years. It's more current events than LWT, which I think is making its name for more in-depth examination and discussion of important matters.
posted by JHarris at 4:26 AM on August 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm getting a 404 here. They can't be dipshits of this size can they?
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 5:30 AM on August 17, 2014


Oh my god you have no idea how podunk the FCC is.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 5:33 AM on August 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


All of that money would go to HBO though. I'm sure that Big Cable's take is quite a large percentage.

That's not how cable works though. Time warner sells HBO to cable providers (including Time Warner Cable) by bundling it with other networks. In other words, "You can have HBO if you also show these other crappy channels that no one wants or watches." So they make a lot more money that way. Eventually, though, this scheme is going to have to fall and they'll make more money (long term) with streaming - but it appears they're holding off on that as long as possible.
posted by fungible at 5:47 AM on August 17, 2014


The golden era of Craig Kilborn?

LOL Stewart and Oliver will never match the greatness of the peak of the Kilborn/Winstead era. They are still doing the schtick that early episodes of TDS invented. Except they don't get the central point, self-mockery. Both of them take themselves far too seriously. Neither of them could do a self-satire like Kilborn's running gag of stopping the show to take out a silver hand mirror from under the desk (always within arms length) to preen his hair. None of the current TDS people understand that a fake news show is a satire of news shows, not a satire of the news.

Stewart is and always has been a boob. I hated him from the moment I first saw him substitute for Tom Snyder on The Tomorrow Show. He has always been a fill-in, a second choice, a substitute for the real thing. I still remember his first week on TDS. I even wrote him some hate email at the end of that week. I told him, you are following Craig Kilborn, the best dressed anchor in TV, who changes his wardrobe every day. And you wore the same rumpled blue jacket and the same necktie the whole week. And did you even change your shirt? Go out and get a new suit ferchrissake. On Monday, he appeared in a new suit and tie, and briefly tugged on his lapels to show it off. In retrospect, I regret telling him the least little thing about TDS that might have lead to his success, considering how he still misunderstands his role.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:53 AM on August 17, 2014


All I'm saying is that John Oliver knows which side of his bread is buttered.

John Oliver really should have chosen one of the other widely available television networks with worldwide reach that isn't trying to monopolize media, preferably one of those networks that isn't beholden to advertisers like HBO, to get his message out.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:57 AM on August 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


> Not to denigrate Oliver's effect, but overwhelming a government website is hardly difficult.

That's glib. When was the last time we saw hurf-durf news stories about irs.gov going down on April 15, or *.mil websites getting pwned by script kiddies?

The FFC's IT has a pretty good idea of what traffic to expect for every section of their web site and is not going to waste the time and big iron at one of them on the off chance it might get a sudden spike in traffic. Now, you could argue that if FCC officials are getting interviewed for a potential hot-button topic, they ought to anticipate more traffic, but that's not IT's fault, that's the fault of the officials and their handlers for not notifying IT.

I'm sure you could easily take down certain pages on Microsoft's, Google's, or Apple's websites and also run hurf-durf news stories about how those companies don't get the web, but the reality is all you've done is prove that they're doing a decent job of allocating resources and that you've done the online equivalent of proving that a restaurant hires shitty waiters by tripping one of them while they're carrying a tray of food.
posted by ardgedee at 8:00 AM on August 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Or perhaps it's not statistically odd, and the balance is not as equal as you perceive it to be.

Or the 'both sides are equally ridiculous' position is not as real as you perceive it to be.
posted by inigo2 at 9:26 AM on August 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


Jon Stewart has had a weird career. Back in the day he was pretty much just another comedian-guy.

I completely forgot til this minute that I saw him do stand-up at UMass in about 1990 for a crowd of maybe 1000, wearing a t-shirt, jeans and sneakers, and chain smoking Camel Lights during his whole set. Ha!
posted by tristeza at 9:30 AM on August 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


Back in the day he was pretty much just another comedian-guy

I remember when I heard that Stewart would be taking over for Craig Kilborn, and when I finally saw the first show I realized that I had, once again, mixed up Jon Stewart and Randy Kagan.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:52 AM on August 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


None of the current TDS people understand that a fake news show is a satire of news shows, not a satire of the news.

Or maybe that was Kilborn's sterile, played out shtick, and there's a reason that shtick is played out. Sorry there isn't enough time left after "taking himself too seriously" to make cheesy self-referential gags. Oh wait, he does that all of the time, he just doesn't resort to copying the same freakin' joke of holding up a mirror like it's a recurring gag...

In any case at some point he started taking the show seriously, and that's pretty much when it stopped being funny.

Well bless your heart. As someone who was paying attention during the Bush years, it was actually pretty liberating and funny to have someone regularly taking pot shots not only at Bush, but at well, the media in general's handling of Bush. That includes making fun of the way the media coddled Bush, and making fun of the lamebrained kid-glove ways the media mocked Bush.

Stewart took a stand because a show about a guy with no opinions on politics who makes fun of media shows by whipping out a mirror to show how vain he is because he's Craig Kilborn would not be the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

The show is a huge success, haters gotta hate. Remember the attempts at making a conservative daily show? I'm not even going to bother searching for links.
posted by aydeejones at 10:11 AM on August 17, 2014 [9 favorites]


And yes, during the Obama years Stewart has been relentlessly skewering him. I'm guessing if it stopped being funny you might've missed that. Of course he's going to go after Obama's critics even harder, because the truth is that Obama has continued some very shitty Bush policies, and yet no matter how shitty he can be about fundamental human rights against Being Blown Apart by a Hellfire Missile in the Middle of the Night, he still has this shambling horde of freakin' MORE CRAZY Republicans whipping racists into a frenzy every time he shifts in his chair.
posted by aydeejones at 10:15 AM on August 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think charlie don't surf was being sarcastic.
posted by JHarris at 10:44 AM on August 17, 2014


> Neither of them could do a self-satire like Kilborn's running gag of stopping the show to take out a silver hand mirror from under the desk (always within arms length) to preen his hair.

Sounds tedious. I wish I had the balls to go around insisting that Jacques Pepin's macaroni in cheese sauce fails to achieve the bright orange color all mac and cheese should strive for.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:45 AM on August 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


OMG have I been trolled? fierceclap.gif
posted by benito.strauss at 10:47 AM on August 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


...charliedon'tsurf...is one of my favorite lines in any movie, ever. I can't see those words without smelling napalm.

What was he going on about? Oh. It was the ...more than but not as...shtick. I got lost between more than and but not as. I can do only two things at one time. Three just makes me want to go rub somebody's head and tell them everything is okay.

If you go back to the "standing on the shoulders of" model, then things make a little more sense. For example, what if I had to choose between Einstein and Hawking? There may actually be a progression between Kilborn and Stewart and Colbert/Oliver. Now that they are side by side it's fun to do Malthusian sums with them, but still. I remember the times from the Bush era when I thought the US was going down in flames; Stewart's was a voice that caused me to pause. Remember the Dixie Chicks? They got skewed for a relatively slight deviance from the patriotic doctrine that was being offered up by the Dark Side, personified by Rowe & crew. Stewart did the WTF shtick, and it proved to be a good model.

Times have change? Not very much.
posted by mule98J at 11:04 AM on August 17, 2014


John Oliver's show reminds me of nothing so much as Michael Moore's TV Nation and The Awful Truth series in the 90s. Anyone remember those? Nothing since has been such a hilarious yet clear call to action. I thought that TV no longer could flirt with being a real force for progressive advocacy since those days - Stewart and Colbert never aspired to such things, as far as I could tell, instead advocating for everyone to take the middle ground of calm sensibility and "restoring sanity." But every single episode of this show so far has been on a different level from that. It's one of the best things on TV at the moment, which is saying a lot considering we're in something of a golden age.
posted by naju at 11:21 AM on August 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


Still concerned about what all this means for The Bugle.

It's very unlikely that we're going to get new Bugles on a regular basis (or at all) even after the "summer sabbatical" is over. Oliver's availability is only going to get worse, not better. It's kind of telling that Andy has stopped mentioning the volunentosubscriptions (and I feel like a heel, but I already went ahead and cancelled mine).
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 11:21 AM on August 17, 2014


there is probably room for several other such shows that would also find their own voice and purpose.

I have high hopes for The Minority Report, Larry Wilmore's new show that will be replacing Colbert when he leaves to take over for Letterman (!).
posted by Room 641-A at 11:28 AM on August 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


I really couldn't disagree more with the assessment that Last Week Tonight is entirely, or slightly, different from The Daily Show. That's not a bad thing, but the shows are identical. If all you saw was an untitled script, the only tip off would be that one can run a lot longer than the other.
posted by spaltavian at 11:42 AM on August 17, 2014


charlie dont surf, are you actually Armond White?
posted by graphnerd at 12:27 PM on August 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


he makes me look forward to the interview, which is definitely not how i felt about j stew. i was buoyed by his energy when he guested when stewart was doing his movie. i don't know that i can articulate it, but i was nodding my head with most of this thread so i think it's been covered. i'll also add, not that i'm comparing levels of talent, but i recall colbert taking a bit to hit his stride on his show-- the beginning was so rough i had to stop watching. i'm kinda happy with what oliver has come up with already and hope he keeps at it.
posted by twist my arm at 12:31 PM on August 17, 2014


Stewart's movie was filmed LAST summer. If he's still tired from that, 12 months later, then he needs to take a REAL break.

*delurk*
I work on the show. Once he returned from the Middle East and resumed taping TDS, he was editing the film in the same building as the show. So, he'd work on writing, then he'd work on the film, then rehearse the show, go into rewrite, work more on the film, do the show, gladhand the VIPs and then GO BACK TO WORKING ON THE FILM. His day started before 8 and went well past 8pm every day. There was lots and lots to do.

Then once everything was locked and ready to go, he was trying to get a distributor, then travelling to promote it, etcetc. He's a very, very busy man. And he takes it in stride, he's been great to work with the entire time.

Also, I've worked with Oliver and Colbert as well as a number of other alums, and Jon is nothing but overjoyed at their success. I think Oliver was a bit of a shock at first when he announced he was going, but Jon loves his people and supports them all.

I know this reads like a "Dear Leader" sort of thing, but it literally is the best place I've ever worked, and the staff are all incredible. When the old folks (Oliver, Colbert, etc) come back to visit they're always happy to come back because the place is just great.
posted by New Old User at 1:43 PM on August 17, 2014 [38 favorites]


It seems pretty obvious that media producers have a huge incentive to promote net neutrality, just as the cable companies have a huge incentive to gouge the media producers. Surely TW/HBO knows it is too late to maintain a barrier to entry for competing content creators. They know where their primary delivery channel will go, sooner or later.

it's funny that no one in this thread can acknowledge that "net neutrality" has winners and losers. And for tech sophisticates, you are naive about the possibility of legislating networking rules. Do you really still believe Google bankrolled the last grassroots movement to support NN out of the goodness of it's heart? Do you really want congress legislating the network architecture at the backbone level?

Eventually some Democrat is going to pass a bill inc congress to save "Net Neutrality" in congress and everyone is going to write puff pieces about him in tech publications and cheer, even though it will require indenturing everyone's firstborn to Comcast or TimeWarner or Google...

What people want when they support NN is more like: let's have bandwidth be a basic utility, like electricity. Let's make sure bandwidth providers aren't in the business of creating packets, only routing them. Let's make sure networks are device independent i.e. the kill Verizon bill. Of course that's as likely as breaking up the Big Tech trusts but it's the sort of legislation congress could actually pass. I challenge anyone to write a "Net Neutrality" specifying how and how not Comcast can run their business, that Comcast's lawyers make a billion dollars off of the loopholes.

The problem with the internet is trusts and monopolists. You can't achieve net neutrality without busting them.
posted by ennui.bz at 1:53 PM on August 17, 2014


OH NOES LOOPHOLES LETS GIVE UP. Well thanks for the doom an gloom! You're so convinced that Comcast will profit off of Net Neutrality and that regulation is essentially meaningless and doomed to fail that I'm surprised Comcast would fight it at all! We might as well all roll over and leave things they way they are, where Comcast can charge individual companies whatever they like to ensure the safety of their packets, like mob bosses, like they've already been doing! Phooey.

I don't disagree that there are monopolies there that should be busted, but in this climate that looks unlikely to happen. So let's take the option that looks like it might have some chance of occurring. It might not be perfect, but the law is always a living document, and you'll never find a perfect piece of legislation. That's why things can be amended. So let's at least take the first step in that direction.
posted by JHarris at 2:54 PM on August 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


>In any case at some point he started taking the show seriously, and that's
> pretty much when it stopped being funny.

Well bless your heart. As someone who was paying attention during the Bush years, it was actually pretty liberating and funny to have someone regularly taking pot shots not only at Bush, but at well, the media in general's handling of Bush. That includes making fun of the way the media coddled Bush, and making fun of the lamebrained kid-glove ways the media mocked Bush.


And at the end of the day did you find yourself more amused or more angry? Or both?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:09 PM on August 17, 2014


I really enjoy John Oliver especially since he brings up the discussion around a variety of topics and explores them in depth, and seems to be excited about getting people thinking.

My main critique of him though is that sometimes his argument consists of making fun of people instead of tearing apart their point. That is, he'll pick a legitimate beef about a topic, find someone who influences/relates to that topic and then proceed to make them look ridiculous about items unrelated to the original topic. That's some kind of logical fallacy but I can't remember which. But by that point in the discourse he's already made you laugh so many times, and the rest of his arguments are logical, so that kind of below-the-belt hits seem reasonable at the time but feel gross afterwards. I find I have to listen very carefully and parse out what I agree with vs. what seems out of line, and I'm concerned that not everyone does that and so will just take what he says wholesale.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:24 AM on August 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


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